Is the Bible reliable? A brief overview of the most common objections

by Dr. Peter Saunders

manuscriptThe Bible is actually a collection of 66 different books written by over 30 different authors in three continents in three languages over a period of 1,500 years which has been carefully complied from reliable copies of the original manuscripts (hand-written documents).
Christians believe that the Bible is both divinely inspired and an accurate record of God’s dealings with man. But many people today question its accuracy. This questioning usually boils down to one of four main questions as follows:

1.Did the events described really happen in the way the eyewitnesses claimed they did? (Are there errors of fact?)

If the eyewitnesses did not relate the events as they originally occurred, then there are only two possibilities. Either they were mistaken or they deliberately lied. Individuals may suffer from errors of perception but not whole groups. Unlike the ‘revelations’ of contemporary cult leaders many of the events described in the Bible were witnessed by more than one person. On examining the accounts we find a remarkable degree of consistency. Consider for example the parallel histories in Kings, Chronicles and the Prophets, the biography of Jesus in the four Gospels or the 500 who were said to have seen Christ after the resurrection. (1 Cor 15:6)

On the other hand would the authors deliberately lie? According to historical tradition, eleven of the twelve disciples of Jesus met a violent death on account of their belief in his resurrection. Would they really have put themselves through such suffering for a faith they knew was false? (1 Cor 15:15-19; 2 Cor 11:23-29)

2.Did the story change before it was written down? (Are there errors of verbal transmission?)

Many people in our 21st century world of internet, email and word-processing believe that verbally transmitted information could never remain uncontaminated. But an examination of the way stories are passed on in contemporary non-literate societies quickly puts paid to this kind of cultural arrogance. Oral traditions are composed in easily memorable format and are constantly repeated and checked. Some early Muslim converts have memorised over 6,000 verses of the Qu’ran accurately! The capacity of the human memory is astounding as any mother who has read to her children knows…


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